Switching from Roon to MPD involved visiting the Sonicorbiter.com web page, using the App Switcher icon to select MPD instead of Roon, and switching over to Kazoo on my iPad. I was able to do that from my computer while sitting in front of the audio system without ever hoisting my lazy butt off the couch. Score one for the couch potato!
Like many playback programs, Kazoo provides a Folder View of the files on your storage drive, which sometimes makes it easier to find music in your collection. For whatever reason, the Roon guys are adamantly opposed to providing a Folder View, so a playback program that does provide it has additional appeal—at least to me. Kazoo also provides other views, like one that organizes albums by composer. One feature I really like is the ability to show and play newly installed music files. After all, when I load a new album on my drive, I want to play it right away. Roon makes that easy; the startup view shows the latest albums you’ve installed almost immediately. Kazoo does that too, but its implementation of the feature is weird—some albums showed they were loaded in the year 2812. Hope I’m still around then. However, Kazoo is free. And MPD is included with the price of the microRendu.
First, I queued up “Pedestal” although I had to use a downloaded copy (44.1/24 AIFF, Sony/HDTracks) since I hadn’t set up Kazoo to work with Tidal, although it’s possible. I heard synthesizer bass that if anything was deeper and more powerful than that streamed from Tidal. PS Audio claims its Huron operating system has noticeably better bass and treble extension, and I think that’s correct; I noticed an extra sparkle to the sound, too, which manifested itself mostly in percussion passages. Evancho’s voice was still very expressive and was reproduced with lots of detail and nuance. I thought there was a smidge more texture to her vocals from the downloaded version.
Switching to “Folia: Rodrigo Martinez,” the first thing I checked is whether the opening blows on the cascabeles (sleigh bells) were distinctive. Some components make them sound alike, but the microRendu distinguished among the three opening whacks. Next, I noticed that the drum, which goes down to the mid-20Hz range, was projected with lots of power and impact, and seemed to go as low as I’ve heard this piece descend. The castanets had a distinctive woody sound, more so than I normally hear, and the transients from their impacts were sharp and distinct. Although I’ve heard them more clearly defined by a few other components, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the harmonic structure of the castanets more accurately depicted. As soon as the main instruments came in, I heard a wide, spacious soundstage unfold in front of me. High frequencies were extended, with an extra tinkle; I think that’s the new Huron operating system again. Leader Jordi Savall’s viola da gamba was portrayed with a palpable sense of body and accurately defined harmonics. There was a propulsive feel as the group injected dynamic life back into this ancient musical piece from 1490. What a hoot!
“Miserere” sounded surprisingly different. First, the solo group that’s located some distance behind the main choral group sounded noticeably farther behind the main group. There was no smear, but the microRendu caught more of the reverberations from the space between the groups. Next, although there was still a wide soundstage, the main choral group sounded less widely dispersed in the center of the soundstage.
The important thing to note is that the microRendu easily distinguished between the sound of two different playback programs, Roon and MPD, which tells us the slightest details are being reproduced. I won’t speculate which software was more accurate; the important thing is that sufficient detail was presented to allow you to distinguish between the two programs and choose the one you feel sounds best.